Just starting as a new member of the Goulbourn Museum team in February, it was soon apparent that I might have more of a connection to the history of Goulbourn than an interest in becoming involved at the museum. While working in one of the collection storage rooms, on one of my first days at the museum, that I had an "aha" moment, and this is the story that unfurled.
Alexander and Mildred Graham were married on September 1, 1928. Soon after being married Alex and Mildred rented the lower level of a log home on Carp Road in Stittsville, from a man named John Junks. Their family soon grew and in this log home their first nine children were born, while baby number ten and eleven were born in their new home, after relocating to Stittsville Main Street in 1947.
Alexander worked on the railway in Stittsville as a section hand at the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) station. Stittsville had grown around this railway station, after the destruction of Old Stittsville by a great fire that ravaged Carleton County in 1870. The railway brought prosperity to the Goulbourn area, created opportunities for local business to flourish, and became a crucial means of transit between communities along the rail line. Alexander and his family witnessed the growth of the railway and height of its influence throughout the war years, but following the Second World War the decline of rail became apparent with an increasing preference towards the car as a means of travel. Alexander worked a total of 47 years with CPR, had seen the height of influence and decline of the railway, and in the 1960s saw the discontinuation of rail service to Stittsville, and the demolition of the CPR train station in 1969. The 1990s were the finale to railway history in Stittsville, with the last train travelling through the village on January 14, 1990.
|Mildred and Alex Graham celebrating their 40th Wedding Anniversary on September 1st, 1968|
Back to present day and I am standing in the collection storage area at Goulbourn Museum; mounted on the wall is a hand crafted wooden sign with the word “Stittville” painted across its length. I had seen this spelling once before, in my grandparent`s house there was a framed image of a circa 1920 Stittsville CPR train station with “Stittville” prominently written across the roof tiles. My grandmother always told us that the extra “s” was a later addition to the village`s name. Below the wooden sign at the museum a label went on to explain, “Stittsville Rail Station Sign. This is the original Train Station sign... Alex Graham, CPR Section Hand for 47 years.”
|Stittsville Rail Station Sign - Goulbourn Museum|
It was in that moment that a realization of the connection hit me... “Aha!” Alex Graham was my grandma`s father! This wooden sign had been something of significance in Alex`s life, a daily occurrence in the 47 years he spent with the Canadian Pacific Railway. Saved from the demolition of the station, the sign now resides within the collection of Goulbourn Museum to preserve the memory of the station, and promote the importance of the railway in Goulbourn Township. What a surprise that my great-grandpa Graham played some role in making this history happen!